Heartbreak finish

Laguna Beach girls' water polo team pushes nation's top-ranked team to the brink but falls in triple overtime, 14-13, in Division I semifinals.

February 24, 2011|By Mike Sciacca,
  • Laguna Beach's Lexie Del Toro (7), left, scores against Dos Pueblos during Wednesday's CIF Division I semifinal game at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine.
Laguna Beach's Lexie Del Toro (7), left, scores… (KENT TREPTOW, Coastline…)

During the final month of its 2010-11 season, the Laguna Beach girls' water polo team really had found its niche.

Playing relaxed, confident and showcasing great defense, the Breakers picked up big wins here and there, one of which was a first-time victory over Newport Harbor on Feb. 18.

On Wednesday night at the William Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine, the Breakers were this close to recording one of the all-time great victories in school history.

All that stood between Laguna Beach and Dos Pueblos in their CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal showdown was a single goal — make that a "golden goal." It's what the Chargers used to escape with a 14-13 victory in a match filled with intense drama and a frantic finish that left both squads exhausted.

Tiera Schroeder skipped in the winning shot in the third overtime, the "golden goal" session, to give top-ranked Dos Pueblos (30-0) the win and send the Chargers onto Saturday's title game against Foothill.


Schroeder's goal also kept the Chargers' spectacular win streak alive. The streak now is 66 games.

On several instances, it appeared that fifth-ranked Laguna might halt that streak at 65. Breakers Coach Ethan Damato said the thought crossed his mind late in the game.

"I thought we were going to do it," said Damato, who in November guided the Laguna boys' water polo team to a CIF championship at the same pool site. "It was such a great game where both teams gave everything they had. Dos Pueblos is a great team. My hat's off to them.

"As for us, I'm just extremely proud of our girls. We played like there was nothing to lose and took them to the brink. I just can't say enough about how special this team is. We knew we could do this. Our girls found ways to make plays throughout the entire game. Even though I was very confident in our team, part of me had hoped that we wouldn't get crushed in the first quarter. Just the opposite happened. That's a tribute to the special group of girls we have."

The Breakers, who had lost two previous meetings (10-8, 13-6) to Dos Pueblos this year, put to rest any slight doubt Damato might have had about the start of Wednesday's game. Laguna bolted to a 3-0 lead on the stunned Chargers within the first 2:42 of the game. Dos Pueblos countered with two straight scores to close the gap, but a goal by Lexie del Toro gave Laguna a 4-2 lead after one quarter.

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